With the end of national restrictions seemingly coming to an end, what has been discussed, what is changing, and what is the potential roadmap for lifting lockdown?
The UK Government had hoped to “remove all legal limits on social contact” from 21 June, however, that has been put back until 19 July, with a review to take place in two weeks.
What has been announced?
The delay is because of concerns over the Delta variant of Covid. Cases are growing by about 64% per week and in the worst affected areas are doubling, and more time is needed to vaccinate people before remaining rules can be lifted, the PM said.
However, a few restrictions are being lifted:
- The number of guests at a wedding will no longer be limited to 30, although venues and hosts will have to do a risk assessment to ensure social distancing can take place (similar rules apply to wakes)
- Care home residents will not necessarily have to self-isolate after leaving their care homes, and they will be able to nominate an “essential care-giver” who can visit, even if they are self-isolating
- Children can go on overnight trips in groups of 30 with, for example, the Scouts or Guides, or as part of summer residential schools
- Also, large events pilots will continue, including more Euro 2020 games and a number of other sports, arts, and music events
The government says that more detail about these changes will be published over the next couple of days.
What are England’s remaining Covid restrictions?
Several restrictions which were expected to be lifted, will remain in place for the moment:
- Limits on the number of people who can mix indoors and outdoors
- Pubs, clubs, theatres, and cinemas still have to operate within capacity limits
- Limited numbers of people allowed to attend sports events
- Nightclubs remain closed
Ministers still have to consider the findings of reviews on face coverings and social distancing before deciding when all limits could be lifted.
What am I allowed to do at the moment?
Exact rules may vary between nations and between some areas in Scotland:
- Pubs, cafes, bars, and restaurants can reopen indoors
- Holiday accommodation has reopened
- Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can open
- Indoor visitor attractions, including museums and galleries, can open
- Leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools can reopen, and indoor group exercise is allowed (with limits)
- Outdoor contact sports are allowed
- Travel around the UK is allowed, and some international travel can resume (in line with the traffic light system)
- Care home residents can receive visitors
- Wedding receptions and funeral wakes can take place
- Some outdoor events – including concerts and sports fixtures – can take place in front of an audience
Who can I meet at the moment?
Rules vary for each UK nation:
- In England, groups of up to 30 can meet outdoors and six people or two households can meet indoors (and stay overnight)
- In Wales, three households can form an extended household and mix in private homes; up to 30 people can meet outdoors in a public place or private garden
- In Northern Ireland, up to six people from two households can meet in private homes (under-13s not counted towards total) and overnight stays are allowed; up to 15 people (including children) from no more than three households can meet outdoors, including in private gardens
However, rules are more complicated in Scotland.
Glasgow is now at Covid protection level two, along with 13 other areas – Edinburgh, Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire, and Stirling.
In these areas:
- Groups of six from a maximum of three households can meet in private and public indoor spaces (and stay overnight)
- Eight people from eight households can meet outdoors
Some districts have moved to Covid protection level one (down from level two) – Highland, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, East Lothian, West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.
The rules for meeting are:
- Six people from a maximum of three households can meet in a private home (and stay overnight)
- Up to eight people from three households can meet in an indoor public place like a cafe, pub, or restaurant (indoors until 23:00, outdoors subject to local licensing rules)
- 12 people from 12 households can meet outdoors
What about areas with high numbers of Indian/Delta variant cases?
The government has updated guidance for people in eight areas of England – Greater Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire (area covered by Lancashire County Council). Kirklees, Bedford, Leicester, Hounslow, and North Tyneside.
In these places, “wherever possible, you should try to”:
- Meet friends and family outside
- Keep 2m (6ft) apart from people you do not live or bubble with
- Minimise travel in and out of affected areas
What about dates in the rest of the UK?
Timetables vary for the easing of rules.
In Northern Ireland, 21 June has been given as an “indicative date” for a number of changes (subject to 17 June review):
- Ten people from two households can meet in private homes
- If a household has more than six members, the number of adults indoors can be up to 15
- Up to 15 people from any number households can meet outdoors in a private garden
- Household bubbles (linked households) set to end
- Live music in hospitality venues allowed at “ambient levels”, no dancing
- Theatres reopen and concerts restart – subject to Covid-safety measures
Lockdown measures in Wales will be reviewed on 21 June.
The whole of Scotland is due to move to level zero, the lowest level of restrictions, on 28 June – but the prevalence of the Delta variant, first detected in India, may delay that.
Quoted from the BBC News Website.